UnityPoint Health - John Stoddard Cancer Center

High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy - HDR is a form of radiotherapy where a radioactive source is brought to a tumor target via a catheter that is placed within a natural or created channel. HDR treatments are typically outpatient procedures that are much more efficient and effective than traditional therapies. The ease of catheter placement and fast deliver of the dose makes this a viable treatment option.

A typical HDR treatment lasts from 8 to 20 minutes. A full course of HDR treatment is usually accomplished in four sessions. The John Stoddard Cancer Center has one of the state's only high dose rate (HDR) units allowing these types of treatments to be given on an outpatient basis. Each patient receives one to five HDR treatments lasting approximately 30 minutes. Patients experience fewer side effects because less radiation reaches surrounding healthy organs and tissue.

HDR Benefits

  • Reduces treatment time to days instead of weeks.
  • Provides fewer side effects by placing radiation directly into the tumor.
  • Offers greater control and accuracy of treatment, including dosing, source of radiation location and time it stays at each location.
  • Requires minimal recovery time, allowing you to go home within hours after treatment with few restrictions.
  • Preserves internal tissues, as no radioactive seeds migrate into other organs.
  • Able to shape radiation dose to fit the tumor.
  • Allows completion of radiation before chemotherapy begins, if required.

HDR has been a proven standard of care for breast, cervical, endometrial, esophageal, prostate, rectal and lung cancer treatments. Having one of only a few HDR units in the state of Iowa for the past ten years, the John Stoddard Cancer Center has cared for hundreds of patients who would have otherwise had weeks of additional radiation treatment or required a hospital stay.

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